Saturday, April 8, 2023

Many Non-Russian Nations No Longer Have Any Authors Under 35 Writing in Their Native Languages, Arzamasov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Apr. 4 – Kazan continues to be the site of roundtables at which experts on Tatars and other non-Russians continue to address what they say are the worrisome implications of the newly released data from the 2021 All-Russian census. Many of the participants rehash familiar arguments, but sometimes they present unexpected and important new ones.

            A recently held roundtable on the census in the Tatarstan capital that attracted experts from across the Russian Federation featured three such observations that have implications far broader than just for that Middle Volga Turkic Muslim republic (

            First. Aleksey Arzamasov, a senior specialist on the humanities and philology at the Kazan Scientific Center of the Russian Academy of Sciences, pointed out that many non-Russian nations no longer have any authors under the age of 35 writing in their native languages. Younger writers, he says, to make a go of it financially, are compelled to write in Russian.

As a result, the average age of non-Russian writers using non-Russian languages is 50 or “even 60.” That means there is no successor generation coming along and that with time, the non-Russian literatures will suffer and even disappear and in so doing contribute to the disappearance of these nations as well.

Second, Albert Bibkov, a Tatarstan blogger and economist, says that this is part of a more general problem, one he describes in the following terms: “The most horrible enemy for the Tatars,” he says, is capitalism because it gives advantages to larger nations like the Russians and doesn’t leave much room for the state to compensate.

Because the Tatars still have a republic, their officials can compensate for that impact to a degree; but nations without such official hierarchies or with hierarchies filled with Russians or others who do not care about the fate of the non-Russians do little or nothing to compensate for capitalism and thus allow the market to do the heavy lifting in the destruction of nations.

And third, Radik Iskhakov, a Tatar historian who specializes on the history of censuses, says he has noted one development that isn’t being picked up by those enumerations. Many Tatars who live outside Tatarstan are buying apartments in Kazan either as places where they hope to retire or to ensure that they will live where Tatar is still spoken.

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